Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dagzine Crush List #2

I decided last month, when Dagzine was about to turn one, to go ahead and list my fave blogs. And some of you were kind enough to encourage the practice. I've decided to list my current faves at the end of each month, and to keep the list to ten:

Burn Out Reading Series Flyer, No3

This is a small flyer, cheaply made, to be cheaply printed and left everywhere to entice, and so on. Not much info on it other than the question and place and time. I'll be dropping these everywhere I go the next two weeks. The other two are for proper distribution.

burndenverdown, originally uploaded by stroszek.

Burn Out Reading Series Flyer, No2

This is the general, large (8x10) flyer I'll paste to Denver poles and hang in shops. Once I get a schedule together for the first month or two of readers (later this week,) I'll post the event fliers. I should have the reading series web page completed by then as well. Of course, I'm posting these here to see what they look like and to receive any advice before I visit the printers on Wednesday. Feel free to critique or advise.


Burn Out Reading Series Flyer, No1

Number 1 in series of three...this flyer is 4x4.


The Devil in Me; Or, A Gag Reflex

If I happen to find Sarah
Vowell nasally sleeping,
I will stay; quickly kneel at her
side quietly, and con-like place
a pillow over her face
and swiftly, Sarah, choke This
American Life. No more one-
liners, quips, stories to tell.
Chicago, for the market, will
produce five more, at least, like her.


Wonderful weekend. I am close to finishing the call for submissions for the first volume in a series of chapbooks I want to publish while writing my dissertation. (And I do hope you'll all send my subs.) What should happen Saturday afternoon? Talking with the GM at the venue I dj for on Thursday nights about ways to fill the place betwee 9:30 and midnight, I take a chance and suggest a reading series to open each night. Since I dj from a loft above the bar and restaurant floor that holds about thirty to fifty folks, I said it'd be a great way to begin the night--would serve the writing community, the business, and get a good jump on a Thursday night filled with great mod, R&B, and punk. Nevermind that I have wanted to get a reading series that isn't an open mic going for some time, I just offered up the idea...and he liked it...and he'll buy most of the equipment we need to get it done...and he wants it started yesterday...

So, this is a heads-up for locals and other interested writers and readers: Beginning Thursday, March 10 at 9:30, a weekly reading series will launch at the Red Room in Denver.

Burn Denver Down Presents
The Weekly Burn Out Reading Series & Freakbeat Dance Party
Hosted by DJ6d8 and Mint Chip

Thursday Nights, 9:30 sharp
At The Red Room
320 E Colfax Ave, Denver

Poetry, Prose, & Pop:
A Freakbeat Soundtrack in 4/4 time.

I am super-excited to be able to coax writers out of their hiding places and into the spotlight each week. I plan on contacting folks for the first season shortly.

Want on the Burn Denver Down mailing list?--receive the schedule and news about special events and guests in your mailbox. Also, receive news from, for, and about Burn Denver Down Press. Send me an email from the address you would like subscribed. Even if you live east or west, north or south of Denver. Sign-up. Maybe you'll get out here and we can begin that reciprocal reading series I mentioned last year.

will to exchange

...great new interview: tom beckett & nick piombino...

Another one off the artist roll-call for life.

Well, you can find my Beck albums in the dumpster behind my house. Some rare vinyl there, too. I missed it for about ten minutes. I can't support a scientologist. Here and Here.

Sucking Satan's Pecker. Suck it, Beck! Suck it. (Bill Hicks: you're the gift that keeps on giving; I miss you.)

And all you zombie fans, the great mass of consumer walking dead, you need to check your shit at the door: wake up before throwing yourselves in front of the trainwreck that is his cult life simply to protect your young God Hansen's honor in the comments section of Dagzine. Your God is a listed member in a dangerous cult--a real fascist organization. He seeks their advice and pays dues.

Mindlessly sink millions into Geffen's and the Church of Scientology's pockets, if you must. That's your choice. I'm not interested in hearing claims of artistic genius. Today is truth day; it's really quite simple: Beck is a Scientologist; he is a follower; he is a stooge; he is a shill; and, consequently, he's off the artist's roll call for life.

I wish this were somebody I could find it easier to hate: somebody like Bono or Sting; raging hypocrites. Somebody who is so obviously enlisted in Satan's Secret Service. Problem with cults is that members are often uneducated victims. So, Beck is probably no more than a pathetic rich boy: can you see Travolta, Cruise, and Beck cruising the yellow brick road in search of the illusive courage, heart, and intellect to break free from the oppression of the Church? Pathetic.

It always ends up being the one you want to like, doesn't it? I always thought Beck was a bit of a rebel pop icon. What a let down.

Bye-Bye Beck. Nice knowing you. And, for you locals who know where I live: trash pick-up is on Thursday. Get grubbing, because I'm not digging those lps out.

Uhmm, Peter and I will be using the vinyl for some remixology projects...good idea, PSY. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

see you on Saturday

Thanks Josh for the mention on Cahiers. I am working on several submissions and prepping workshops, and writing a midterm for my philosophy students. I chatted with Jake York yesterday about our growing agreement and disagreements concerning the topic at hand. And I will be at it again on Saturday. Until then, I need to catch up on a few things and will be reading from the sidelines.

I am going to try to pull off a ginormous constellation effort with my next post pulling together as many of the writers who have taken the time to address the issue. What will come of it.

oh, and not that I have forgotten: the call for BDD Press's Angry Utopias should be ready for distribution Sunday evening. I am excited. Hope you are, too.

Monday, February 21, 2005

One example of the stasis-seeking-and-achieving ISA

The headline "Flap may hurt CU recruiting" summarizes the lead story for the Post's "Denver & The West" section. The Post categorizes the article under "Academic-Freedom Debate."

1. The spectacle of the academic-freedom debate transforms lives. Careers are at stake. In addition, conservative ideologues purposefully construct this kind of public discourse to radically reshape the academic community without the need for its proponents to actaully get involved in any form of scholarship.

What else, then, is there to say? What does bother me about this article?

2. Summary of the problem: The community and administration at the University of Colorado completely mishandled the recent football team fiasco. They bury it and continue to bury it with this spectacle. The Buffs were recruiting (topical, since the scholars are now worried about talent recruitment) players with sexual favors via local prostitutes. An employee claimed responsibility and took the fall, but we all know how this works. Sexual misconduct was (is?) a problem at the school, and the charges of rape and sexual misconduct are ongoing to this day. At the very least, we know CU and its football team cultivated the environment that permitted a violent attitude towards women, and several cases of sexual misconduct were the end result. We even have the coach, on record during a press conference, ridiculing a female teammate because "she's a girl." His cheap apology was accepted by the school.

Nevermind that such contempt, conscious or not, directed towards women in public statements only encourages further violence against women. Take it from an ex-jock, these knuckleheads worship their coach. If he laughs, they laugh. Now, we have a guy who compared dead Americans to little Eichmanns. Living individuals who are expected deal with a constant threat of violence because they're girls (thanks, coach) take priority over those who have died.

If you're taking offense via my priority: I am strongly opposed to forming a memorial to our culture's righteousness as a just response to the deaths of thousands in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the US.

3. To return to the issue at hand, The press should explore our policies and values. What purpose does ignoring gender-based hazing and sexual discrimination and misconduct serve? What is it about allegations of rape and abuse that CU recruitment goes unharmed? What is it about the years-old crass utterance of a scholar that is more timely? Many smart students skip CU because it is considered a party school, don't they?

Who says which issue is more important? Because you all know that the school is going to delay reviewing Churchill until the media circus moves on to another town and then they'll drop the whole thing. He simply has the right to make such statements.

4. Locals argue about freedom; The Post pushes the Academic-Freedom angle. How come this angle wasn't pushed when several women came forward with charges of rape? Instead of questioning practices at CU, the press questioned the credibility of the women.

5. Students who live with the threat of sexual harrassment are limited in their Academic Freedom. We're going to argue about Churchill? You want to call folks "little Eichmanns," you should live with the response. You come down the mountain and share your bits of wisdom, you need to handle the laughter and mocking. His colleagues will take care of him when his work is reviewed. If his rights are violated, then he will need to seek punitive and retributive damages in court.

6. How does a person live with sexual violation? What retribution is there?--especially when the community apparently cares less for an individual's rights than it does its popularity ratings.

7. So, people won't want to go to CU because the school fosters an environment where drinking, drugs, football, fucking, and censorship are priorities. Blaming Ward Churchill for the state of affairs at CU is like blaming George W Bush for the state of affairs in the US. You might not like the guys but they aren't the problem; they are only figments of its manifestation.

8. Here's what has to happen: 1) Fire CU's president; 2) Fire the football coach; 3) Apologize to the community for a general failure to promote civil discourse on and off campus; 4) Demand students accept responsibility for their illegal actions rather than offering them 2 strikes; 5) Encourage the local community to accept a share of the responsibility for the state of affairs at their school. Oh, and get Coors off campus. Why we allow alcohol companies to use our univeristy campuses to find their future loyal consumers is beyond me.

No4 is important. CU is our school; it is a state school. It belong to us. It does not exist for football; it does not exist for a few scholars; it exists to educate and promote democratic scholarship for everybody. Ward Churchill certainly has a place in such a community, whether or not we appreciate his POV. But we need to protect the rights of each citizen on campus. Academic-Freedom--who is it for, really? Hint: look who argues over IT...a specific kind of lay citizen and a specific kind of scholar.

9. All the talk about freedoms is banal. We treat university administrations like Businesses and campus communities like micro-markets. The public needs to figure out what interest universities serve--state schools do it differently than private schools, of course. In any case, those of us on the inside only stand to lose our jobs. It's tough.

10. I was extremely pissed off to see all of the students willing to put their bodies on the line for Ward Churchill. Did any of you see the emotional footage of students being physically dragged away in handcuffs? Heartbreaking: good for them. But: Where were they when the university simply dropped the ball on the investigation of the football team? Where were they when the press hung their fellow classmates out to dry (students, who felt isolated and abused, who complained of harrassment and assault)? [Oh, these weren't the right kind of girls. This is a whole 'nother issue, of course. For, if they were members of the indie-set, if they were "outsiders," then there would be more outrage.]

Where were the sit-ins, the boycotts of games, the protests outside of games.
Where were the flyer campaigns demanding action? Etc etc

11. Simply put: this Churchill thing is much more sexy for kids and scholars, pundits and administrators than the issue of "violence against women on American campuses." In fact, such violence is far too common and accepted/acceptable for the mainstream. Since a guy like Churchill pops up only once every decade or so, people want to get on board. They want to do the right thing when the cameras are on.

12. This is the dumping paragraph. You may choose to skip it and move right on to the following one. But I have to unload; I'm half-cocked as it is. Fuck him & Fuck CU.I really want to say say it,'s only because I'm not feeling sympathetic today...not at all. I have nothing good to say about a place that Ward-worships. Go to Boulder tonight and step inside any of the local bars or hang out on the Pearl St Mall; the pseudo-radical kids binge-ing on cheap pot and cheaper coors light talking smack about the school, the man, oppression, & the right to free speech. This is old news. Give me a break. I am sure the poetry shams--slams, I mean--are overloaded right now with the pah-pum, uppity rhythmic bullshit of complaint and cute one-liners. Ok, I dumped...good to get that off my chest. End of dumping.

13. How about we seek a little justice in society. What would happen if we stepped behind that "veil of ignorance" John Rawls writes about and made our minds up in a joint session. Ward Churchill would be a has been and a nobody knew and these women and the thousands of others in similar situations each semester would be cared for appropriately. That is what would happen.

14. In this month of all months, we should be considering how we have a horrible habit of turning diverse cultures into monolithic races, powerful individuals into mock ideals for diverse communities. Churchill has had his opportunity and blown it--he could have led his colleagues and students in a radical charge against a growing fascist State, I would have gladly followed, but he chose to insult specific individuals in order to promote an emotional response. He went for the thrill; he joined the orgy. He is no leader.

Ward Churchill and David Horowitz actually make good bed-fellows. They are lames.

15. To recap, it's a gender issue: What makes it easier for folks to defend Churchill than to defend (and remain at the) defense of CU women bringing charges against the football team? Both may have been (and are still) demonized by the press; however, Churchill is offered a primary dignity the women in question are not. Where does (t)his dignity come from? Some might say the issue is a rights issue. Don't kid yourselves; it's a gender issue.

16. To conclude: on the ISA at work:The Post's Dave Curtin writes, "Many scholars say the investigation of Ward Churchill could have a chilling effect on attracting talent."

Gender and Politics aside, this is about folks looking out for their own. Allow me to generalize, to take a step back, and to posit: The ideological state apparatus (ISA) involved in this debate tends to turn the issue towards folks protecting their own.

(We do call it a political-lynching.)

Doesn't the ISA single out the radical elements in society and purposefully refine bad subjects to such an extent that their numbers appear too small to offer any real, potent, and consistent challenge to a status quo? We might call this a stasis-seeking-and-achieving ideological apparatus.

17. postscript:
I am not going to participate in it. I am going to oppose it. I can oppose it by showing it working. And I am not going to align myself with Churchill in order to further individuate myself from others in society, as if I am able to be refined in that manner.

I am common. Dirt.
I accumulate. Mash-up.
I do not distinguish.
I run from no one.
I call you only by the name you call yourself.

We have to rewrite everything each time.

another suicide

Hunter S Thompson shot himself last night.

Suicide is near and dear to me in many ways; but this is as tough as any have been. Thompson was my punk hero--and his public "take me as I am or leave me the fuck alone" personality, his political activism, and his warped, gonzo idealism sent me to the tattoo chair fifteen years ago to have etched into my spine that dagger of his.

I got involved with protest, philosophy, reading my work--doing public work--only after I read Thompson. He didn't make me want to be a journalist; he made me want to explore the possibilities for fiction.

I left his work behind with my early twenties, moved quickly to Americans like Creeley & Williams, to modernism, to German romanticism, to phenomenology, to film, to art. Those moves that led me from being a crass punk to a philosophy degree are a bit too blurry to recall. I stumbled through my twenties, but the lead paragraph is a gonzo-hued.

Regardless, we saw him around Denver often enough that I have never really been without his personality, which I have always found appealing--an affinity possibly.

What do I need to excuse? Certainly not my feelings nor his act.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

notes towards a renovative innovative

End of January I posted a reply to Waldman's short inquiry "Oppositional Poetics." I made the argument for an oppositional poetics grounded in a renovative verse function. I wrote, "Poetry has a unique relationship to specific landscapes--geography influences the poet's thought, landscape versifies geography (like poetry versifies prose,) language shapes thought--and through that unique relationship a topography for doing poetry develops, maintains, influences, constructs, and renovates." My goalwas to privilege renovation over innovation, not devalue innovation altogether. By the end of this post, I will arrive more or less at the following claim:

Useful and present Innovation is proper and present Renovation.

Innovation is the driving force behind "develops, maintains, influences, constructs." I add "and renovates" as a mechanism that circumferences innovative forces within poetics. Renovation, in my opinion, literally grounds innovation. Places innovative work within a landscape that must be nurtured. This is not a linear narrative that plots a place and time for poets and their work, begging both to fit within a given tradition. Quite the contrary, this geogrpahic location offers contemporaneity, a cross-section of here and now moments. Individual poems and poetics concresce and become more or less luminous communities in the greater cultural landscape.

Jake York, during the week of 2/6-2/13 and even in his latest post on the mainstream, helps flesh out as well as critiques my distinction between for and with in that earlier response. Josh Corey picked up on it as well here. (Kevin Elliott, Laurel Snyder, Mike Snider, J Mayhew are all writing about this; and KSM posted something engaging about value, yesterday.) The distinction is significant. Doing poetry with rather than for allows me to be like Baudelaire's flaneur. Whereas Baudelaire is needy, he is able to claim he accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish. Should the critic wish to place his work within a tradition for a reason that serves the critique or critical community, the work itself is always there in spite of the critique. Work completed for a community, for a cause, for a class, for a tradition always depends on an author's skill to accrue within the poetic object what is determined to be at-that-time--which is always at least one moment old--both significant and formal. This skill is never quite innovative enough to be anything other than creative (showing imagination) and is always a directive that points to something else that has not been nor ever can be fully achieved. Working for is to submit to a failure to achieve. Working for relies on time-tested structures to be re-enhanced--not revised--in order to achieve a sense of cultural identity through tradition. This is at best alienating, at worst basely submissive. Working with, on the other hand, allows one to use what is ready at hand as a tool for innovative labor. Working with permits one to construct and to revise what has been constructed. Working with allows for singular efforts within diverse communities.

I suppose this is a bit Deleuzean. I don't mind.

The problem with our market economy in relation to our poetry is that while the market flourishes when it is autonomous, when it allows for a freedom to experiment, and when it allow for diversity, our culture at every instant attempts to single out formal definitions and methods for The Autonomous, The Experimental, and The Diverse. This is the problem with the many and the one. Because the market is insensitive to our shared values and public interests, it moves through a proliferation of private exchanges without the ability to see or recollect; what is recorded is always the in-addition-plus-one, and plus-one, and plus-one. Capital is, after all, self-valorizing.

For a poem to develop, maintain, influence, construct, and renovate, a poet must work in the middle of things and remain in the middle of things regardless of what happens to the poetry that accumulates in the wake of the finished poems (products.) We should be able to say, Do with this what you will, I am finished with it and still care. In other words, an innovative poem always innovates. For what purpose? Towards what end? Certainly poetry is a project. We might not embody or wish for an end, but we depend upon a common means to do poetry. A means is an attempt--an attempt with, not for. Who are we doing for anyway?

For a poem to innovate while it renovates, a poet must engaged a community from which he or she cannot be isolated from. A writer might seek solitude in seclusion or isolation, but then what is written is always with(out) a community. The requirements for poetry to adhere to a look or to function as a gaze conceal its revelatory potential to shape social character and habit. A poem might not have the renovative power to actually change the occurrence of an event, or shape how it is interpreted; however, a poem produced with(in) everyday life and left there to be with it embodies a power to renovate that moment, in that it is a knowledge of that moment. Thus, a poetic object (and a poet) can alter the landscape by leaving behind remnants of behavior in congress or opposition to daily events. Poets compose a myriad my life.

The argument--the debate--concerns what should be valued in poetry. The current arguments for a mainstream poetry and against difficult poetry are a good sign. Who's kidding who, though? The argument against difficult poetry does nothing to address poetry as it is or potentially can be in society if only because it is a self-directed complaint aimed at a small portion of poets. It is self-directed because the majority of Americans (for example) simply do not read at all. Nevermind poetry. People are not reading. The complaint only properly addresses a small group of poets because only a small group of writers set out to write a difficult piece that readers will find hard to understand. The poets often listed as purposefully difficult write verse that is immanently meaningful; I have yet to read an engaging poem I haven't found accessible. The complaint about difficulty is strictly a complaint about form and value. It is simply wrong-headed and exclusive: wrong-headed, because the complaint does not actually handle what is at issue and offers, instead, a monolithic definition for meaning and comprehensibility that serves as a convenient straw man for burning; exclusive, because the complaint is not concerned with readers who aren't poets. In fact, it is an elitist argument, quite the snobbish and priggish position, because it supports the notion that only certain poets know and understand Poetry and Poetics, and as stand-ins for all the rest of us, they will make argument for the cause. Which is itself limited to ease of comprehension.

What is good poetry? Who cares? This is why few people read poetry anymore: they feel unqualified. Whether it is good or not, that poem you wrote is a poem. And whether your poetry is good or not, you are a poet when you're writing poems. (Ted Berrigan influence here.)

What does poetry do? We all better care. I might add that if it were possible to write a poem that had no meaning whatsoever, even the meaningless poem would do something. And I do believe that the complaints about difficulty are often made by readers who have no interest to examine meaning beyond the pragmatic and immediately relevant explicatures and implicatures in and around a line.

Maybe it is good enough to say that poetry should leave something behind to return to. This is its mark: a point of return, a place to begin: in this way a thing to develop, to maintain, to influence, to construct, and to renovate. The innovation is to assert my in-my-own-manner with you, or as Waldman claims, to go against the grain.

...If the grain is a fashionable attachment to simplicity, then we had better consider writing more difficult poems. Simplicity is, after all, a material condition of existence; quite the bourgeois condition. When I consider how I know what I know, and I attempt to consider my nature, I am tossed violently back three to five centuries. I find a balance, a too-comfortable mediation for experience and self-knowledge in Descartes. But when I begin to tune into these frequencies that we are all tuned in to, whether consciously or not, then I must consider the material conditions of my existence in a market that produces, amplifies, distributes, and broadcasts these frequencies as commodities.

I begin to compare how I value things, events, people, places. I begin to learn there are processes I am involved with that work without consideration of my feelings and my understanding of Spirit. I begin to comprehend that these processes take place within a system that is not populated with peoples, places, and things, because it is an ideological system not an ecosystem. And I finally begin to understand that I need to complicate the system, fuck with it at every opportunity, tweek it, simply to remind myself that I do have the ability to function without it.

Now I see why I am for and with focused. I am not going to implement a for directed attitude when working with others. For what? I have no reason to do anything for anyone. I do have every reason to work with others--to promote opposition to forces that promote indifference. Once indifferent, I can do for. Grade for. Purchase for. Critique for. Eat for. Sleep for. Work for. Walk for. Talk for. In opposition, I perform with, which as Jake mentions, is a turning towards. And when I turn towards, then I meet, and once met, we move with each other towards another turning. Working in this manner allows an involved opposition to daily routine in the market while it develops a (in)dependence--an ability to remain intellectually aloof enough to see what is coming. It is an attempt at presence, at least, an aspect of the moment. It is a purposive resistance of a continued (basely habitual) glancing backwards at some time and place that never was or will be because it exists only in the archive.

I suppose, this logic, has led me to equate the innovative to the renovative. But I need a break. (I really hope I am making some sense.)

Mocking Structure, Or Equations for Difference

For Difference in any case,
one moment to the next,

(A=[A=B] OR B=[B=A])


(A=[B=B] OR B=[A=A]).

notes//talk and walk//walk and talk//notes

(All notes reference Traherne's "Walking"--cited at bottom of post--and Martin Corless-Smith's Nota. I am working through ideas here and you may or may not find anything useful. I am not sure how much I am invested in these claims, but I like a few of them. I wanted to get into Merleau-Ponty with Nota, but those books are at home and I am at my office.)

:what Traherne does with meaning/syntax:
I can spend the next week or two on the first stanza. The first stanza is not circumstancial.

Traherne encourages me
To walk [in this case] abroad, not with eyes [only] but [with] thoughts is to see and prize the fields.
I think my paraphrase is useful in many ways: highlights three important ideas: 1)his troubling of eye(sight) and thought(image), 2) his emphasis on how to walk (abroad), and 3) his formal introduction of value (to prize.)

I like "silent feet" (line 3): verse is frequently composed from silent feet; at times a poet constructs a poem considering syntax alone. Lines are often cut from premade fabric and so are referential: dependence on everyday phrases and clauses, a regular rhythmic accompaniment, a recognizable tone, to portray what is considered behind the lines. However, this may not be a simple critique of imaginative verse written without the urgency or outside the presence of activity;

Traherne's may be an acknowledgement that a poem is, as an object, a silence through which a sound is prized.

Traherne laments a wrong sense of still. A poem shouldn't sit still. I hear American Modernism in "Walking": a wanderer, poetic project(ion), aspiration (the bees,) the field, entrance to exit, and the playfully serious pessimism in Spring and All,

Williams' "if anything of moment results" is concerned with the "constant barrier" that a poet (not a reader) erects between the poet and the reader. This barrier might be a book, a page, or a leave (of grass, or weed--a volunteer(?)--) that physically and consciously, (in other words, purposefully though without too much care, hence fortunately) prevents a reader from contact with the author's immediate contact with the world.

Authors can
  • write with an intellectual barrier already in place that determines the form and content of the actual, physical barrier (the poetic or prose object) between reader and writer because authors choose to eschew an unstable and common intellect (solitude) in midst of a crowd to cultivate a stable and singular intellect in isolation from the crowd (seclusion);
  • write in the moment, more or less aloof from though always a part of the crowd, and consciously mediate the intellectual barrier between reader and writer because authors can prevent oppressive elements (such as a cultivated or habitual indifference as a response to the sublime) from being translated into static moments within their work.
We have to admit at least this barrier and the ethics it involves: should I write a few lines above Tintern Abbey? Or, should the lines be written there, at or in Tintern Abbey? Reading the Prelude (its versions) only (re)constructs this problem. How do I say myself as a way to you myself by doing it again in the line for you by myself?

I hear in Traherne's poem these fragments from Whitman:
I am a look--mystic--in a trance--exaltation.
Something wild and untamed--half savage.
Common things--the trickling sap that from the end of the manly


I am become the poet of babes and little things.
I descend many steps--I go backward primeval
I retrace steps oceanic--I pass around not "merely my own kind," but
all the objects I see.--
I know the former is overtly sexual, but look past the prurient to the notion that this "prize" is a common thing(ing). With the latter, its concern with babes and little things, recalls Traherne's claim about what children perceive in the penultimate stanza.

What does a child know before learning how to say NO and thereafter seeing only difference through want or desire? What a child knows is what a child needs--the presence of the self-same in moments of attachment to others--we debase this as innocence or dependence. But patience belongs to the fallen, not to the innocent. The past is an aspect of our detritus and always having already been. The present is never accessible after difference sets in.

This is not to say that we cannot walk and talk through it together in useful and possibly necessary attempts at constructing a close-knit and patient community of seers and thinkers.

Writers ask of objects: Where was it written? Where was it thought? Where was it heard? Did I, in fact, hear it this way? Will they (readers) care? Always a courtesy to the past events, never a knowledge of the present moment. That's what we lost--certainty and wonder.

(jump ahead: Corless-Smith writes at the beginning of the poem "Nota": "The authority I give to OR is always as a subset of AND." A rare period in his book. A rare resting place. The conjunction is important as a place to stop: the first line finds the next claim, reasonably: "Any description of that which is becoming is thought inferior to a description of that which is." This explains OR as a subset of AND. And offers another period.
I'll put it in notation: (I am going to die OR I am not going to die.) AND (I am dead Or I am not dead.)

He writes: "Matter though independently real is dependent for meaning on its relation to Spirit."

I might add: Wittgenstein, in Culture and Value, remarks that after culture is nothing but a pile of rubble, Spirit will hover above it--one can only assume he meant unharmed, unchanged, or as Spirit. What matters of Matter, then, is Spirit.

I might add: culture is the gumphis subtilibus holding Spirit to Matter. With each breath exhaled another seam gives out. I am sure we cannot know just how many sutures we began with OR how many are left.)
The pain in seeking for certainty (Whitman's "I pass around not 'merely my own kind' but all the objects I see.") overpowers work, potentially encases authors inside their own concerns, protects them (in bad faith) from the critic and the market and from their peers and themselves.

A movement towards...realism; after all, this is a movement not towards signification, structure, (ugh) representation, but towards consciousness. Consciousness, in this sense, may be self-aware being illustrating for others itself having been somewhere at sometime. And this illustration is not with others, but a firm denial of shared value--a desire that subordinates one interpretive exchange for another. Such a defined consciousness stakes a claim only about and for itself primarily so that it can be exchanged for other similarly constructed claims. Traherne's work dismisses this aspect of formalism for a more objectively personal and abstract presence of recognition and recollection in seeing and prizing sight.

What has happened to our ability to confess the limits of signification? We need to coordinate our efforts in an attempt to understand certainty of what we experience(d) as a culture, a community, an individual. Subordinating one form for another allows us to think in terms of what image is worth more than the other. The slip is mechanical and occurs at the level of (in this case) the poetic utterance. What con-forms in line?

Wherever am I going with this?
I am figure-ing the opening lines in Traherne as phenomenological, I think, by working backwards from the walking and talking in the final stanza. "To walk abroad is, not with eyes/ But thoughts, the fields to see and prize." The problem is in how we choose "to see and prize." First "to see" and then "to prize."

The argument against the dead wood or "silent feet" occurs in a dialogue between eyes and thoughts. Hints of Wordsworth. To be properly engaged in a moment, to appropriately recollect it. "To see and prize" is to recollect what has been witnessed or experienced in a way that sets a value upon both the image and the recollection of the image.

What is my ability to thoughtfully reconstruct a physical experience? How can I value a site/sight without fully abstracting it from the concrete order of its original moment? Or what skills do I possess to make that moment mean something more common than a simple conveying of what happened at any given moment?

But this isn't a comfortable recollection in solitude. There is tension in Traherne between writing about walking and walking itself. Look at that heavy and happy word, "meet" (line 6).

Well, duh, it is rhymed with "feet"...what meets in feets?

Easy answer: the seen (what was observed or experienced) favorably meets the prized (possibly, a poem that relates the seen.)
Honest answer: the result of "the fields to see and prize" meet (as in transform) the silent feet which might otherwise be left "like logs of wood."

Let's play; experiment. What if, [(A OR B) AND (A1 OR B1)]. If the variables and their primes represent different options for writing a line. For any walk or talk, any thought or moment, the variables change and conform to each other and an unknown difference. So that A= [(A OR B) AND (A1 OR B1)]; B= [(A OR B) AND (A1 OR B1)], if A and B change for every contemporary moment here and now. A present moment is always a subset of past circumstances. This is a sort of turning my self inside out.

Even the conformist cannot claim conformity because making a choice to align all variables occurs within a process of others making similar choices without the process of knowing what choices are made prior to writing.

I have no idea where this is going. It has its own purpose and stakes its own claims--that the line is self-written and merely copied is a distinct possibility since my ability to say anything meaningful is always sight and language limited. Why not simply cut it all up? Does it mean anything different or does it simply mean differently?

Thinking of Thoreau, of becoming.

The puppet imagery is tough. That is Tough Thomas Traherne...ever haunted by the yapping eyes of a dummy? I saw Anthony Hopkins in Magic when I was eight. Wasn't frightened by the psycho biz, but the puppet creeped me out for months. Uncanny...Stranger Strange.

I got started on this Traherne poem thought experiment b/c of Nota. Fabulous reading with Martin and Catherine. Both performed wonderfully; somehow a valuable accompaniment, in spite of the very different work. We all sang together. Nice ending to a good day spent. All the tags in Nota. I know lyric when I see it, but I am taken by the use of lyric as a tag: tagging.

Specifically the opening stanzas: A few examples (my ampersands):
"But Although The Experience Of Seeing Is Not Typical"

Two feet above the ground I walk
a storm comes on in yellow light
thick drops

If I must sleep in daylight
and silent through my talk
the books I open follow
me as clouds


There are also solitary bees
those whose soil is so poor
ant on the cut peony
carried off in folds of
scent from the earth


The symbolic landscape of the landless
The principal possessions of the dispossessed

I am interested in Traherne's and Corless-Smith's "bees" in conjunction with walking and talking--bees are not silent...

To walk abroad is, not with eyes,/ But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;/

To fly abroad like active bees,/ among the hedges and the trees,/ to cull the dew that lies/ on ev'ry blade/
Two feet above the ground I walk/ invisible

There are also solitary bees/ those whose soil is so poor/ ant on the cut peony/ carried off in folds of/ scent from the earth

In rare cases it is useful to talk

What of the difference between solitude and seclusion? I like Thomas Swann's claim, "I am no free agency." "To my sight--which seems held in loose connection to my self the world is equally a home." What of the dependable (as in a reliable dependency) connection (conjunction?) between the eyes and what they see constructing a self or a home. What of my home and my self? Is this a solitary place where the poet (in this case) hides or is kept? Is Thomas Swann a kept self? Well, the joke aside, this is a valuable question to ask.

Swann does, after all, wonder if his arm is actually his or if any arm could do. In other words, form form form...and certainty. I think Swann might do well to consider Wittgenstein's explorations on certainty. I like the idea that solipsism, though a common oppression, is curable through inquiry that leads the author out of seclusion without eradicating desirable solitude.

btw, I really like
You ask you may you may survive this sight
you won't survive yourself and here you end
another takes you on you must comply
you have no other gravity
overloaded or what! pow

now read Thomas Traherne "Walking"

To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
Else may the silent feet,
Like logs of wood,
Move up and down, and see no good
Nor joy nor glory meet.

Ev'n carts and wheels their place do change,
But cannot see, though very strange
The glory that is by;
Dead puppets may
Move in the bright and glorious day,
Yet not behold the sky.

And are not men than they more blind,
Who having eyes yet never find
The bliss in which they move;
Like statues dead
They up and down are carried
Yet never see nor love.

To walk is by a thought to go;
To move in spirit to and fro;
To mind the good we see;
To taste the sweet;
Observing all the things we meet
How choice and rich they be.

To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey;
Admire each pretty flow'r
With its sweet smell;
To praise their Maker, and to tell
The marks of his great pow'r.

To fly abroad like active bees,
Among the hedges and the trees,
To cull the dew that lies
On ev'ry blade,
From ev'ry blossom; till we lade
Our minds, as they their thighs.

Observe those rich and glorious things,
The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
The fructifying sun;
To note from far
The rising of each twinkling star
For us his race to run.

A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
May rich as kings be thought,
But there's a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight,
To which we shall be brought.

While in those pleasant paths we talk,
'Tis that tow'rds which at last we walk;
For we may by degrees
Wisely proceed
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.

where am i going with this back pain and urge?

?Query//what I will write about this week on Dagzine

if there is anything to say at all
meaning what I say or saying what I mean
you'll steal from my tooth a sound bite.

leave me to locate it in my breath. That
such a guy thing to do.

Topics today:
  • poetry and value: the Value of value: the market, names, brands, the other
  • no such thing as a true narrative, only trued narratives--structuralism must die a little death with each utterance for thought to shine through language, for thought to have a chance
  • Corless-Smith has me reading Traherne, Whitman, Williams, metaphysics, Merleau-Ponty: more on this, too much, thanks Martin, as if I don't have enough to do already: I'll have to work this into my writing lectures somehow.
  • Wagner's got me singing poems--I like that. But these things tend to stick in the head, then, and this effects memory in interesting and engaged ways. Can we file experience away in moments that recall what was once forgotten in tabbed lyrics? If so, does the quality of the lyric determine to some extent the quality of the recollection? If so, do photographs matter? Are soundtracks more significant? Playful.

Reading today:
  • The Faber Book of Utopias (working on BDD Press call for submissions, Angry Utopias.)
  • Nota, Martin Corless-Smith
  • Macular Hole, Catherine Wagner
  • The Frequencies & The Area of Sound Called the Subtone, Noah Eli Gordon (third read...great reads both, I am reviewing them for the next Double Room. )
  • Antidotes for an Alibi, Amy King

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Pleasures of Fiction

A "true narrative"? Ugh, structuralists are so boring.

NeoCon Death Squads coming soon

Negraponte? One can simply no longer deny that our government is comprised of petty crooks, thugs, and murderers.

Enjoy our smug president? Check his giggling demeanor below while signing a bill limiting class action law suits. What interest does he serve other than his own?

Look closer.
they enjoy their work

I'm surprised they didn't bring out the growing, presidential collection of bald heads for him to







and then a little quiet time

Not a good week at all.

Need I say how difficult it is to sit down and write? I am really depressed about all this. I'll get to poetry and value sometime this weekend--right fter I purge death squads, gannon & bush, and negraponte.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Burn Denver Down Press

I have attempted twice to bring Burn Denver Down into existence. I was never ready to take the plunge. Wasn't dedicated enough or just not sure of myself, possibly less foolish than I am now. Who knows?

Well, here it is. Burn Denver Down Press is born. You are welcome to check out the site I am constructing for its announcements.

I have gathered a few colleagues together to work on the first chapbook, and I am presently working on a call for submissions.

I wanted to share, because I get excited about this kind of thing. I probably won't sleep for a week--coming to terms with the work and the weight of it. To get it done, and done right.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

jazz investigations

somebody emailed me about jazz last week; and I didn't respond; lost the email address; have forgotten who left the comment.

I have a cd phobia. W/o itunes we'd be turntable limited. Recently, we purchased a few cds...our faves are The Great Jazz Trio's Someday My Prince Will Come and Joe Lovano's I'm all for you. Django receives a lot of play.

As for the records; here is what we have been playing lately:
Archie Shepp (esp, For Losers and Consequences-w/ Bill Dixon)
Grant Green (esp, Iron City-w/John Patton and Bill Dixon)
Charles Mingus (my hero)
John Coltrane (esp, Lush Life, Bahia, Sun Ship)
Marian McPartland (esp, Plays the Music of Leonard Bernstein, Bossa Nova+Soul, Interplay)
Errol Garner (late fifties, Plays Misty era)
Paul Desmond (Take Ten)
Bill Evans (esp, Undercurrent-w/ Jim Hall-we like Jim Hall's recordings with Paul Desmond, too)
Modern Jazz Quartet (esp, At Music Inn w/ Sonny Rollins, Lonely Woman, Blues on Bach)
Toshiko Akiyoshi (early stuff w/ her trio, Insights, Dedications)

If I were to go home now, I would throw on Eric Dolphy or Monk.

in media res

what does that mean anyway?

Ernesto's post reminds me of Pessoa's pessimism that points to production--to writing.

Writing is letting go, less
doing what I can than
choosing what we can
do or what can be done
about it. Not it cannot
be written but it must


The concrete order--
spontaneous, self-generating,
or plotless without origin:
the object;
where it is from, going to,
or driven--
reproduced and uncovered--
consequently limited to be
written about cannot be
written about

but is the writing itself.

The limit is a mechanism that makes writing more complex
The prohibition, cause.

I like Ernesto's honesty:

"...still, it is being
written: I cannot write...."

I like still. And then he writes what is there to be written.
In spite of.
The lack, maybe The return.
The repressed. The in media res extended.

Nulla dies sine linea:
a prohibition with
something to say.

In addition to
not being able to
is all of this in spite of myself.

Constellation (appendix;simulacrum)

While back, in the midst of my comps study and dumping,
you when all that you have read
when what you have read is
all that you breathe
I dumped a blueprint for
a potential constellation into dagzine.

I am adding this from Pornfeld.

Will work it into my discussion,
the one I am re-engaging tomorrow.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Satellite's gone up to the skies
Things like that drive me out of my mind
bum bum bum
Satellite of love
bum bum bum
Satellite of love
bum bum bum
Satellite of love


meme showoff:
bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...
Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C.

via Jason Stuart's Grim Pen.
ecritures bleus is back...good show...and I will be back, too, to rejoin the ongoing oppositional poetics, value of value, value of anonymity discussion we were having right after I finish evaluating my students' works. Meet here on Wednesday...until then revel in Jim the banished's Foetic Justice. The cartoons are great.

X-Ray Specs tune below fits the Foetry thing, no?

I Am A Poseur

I am a poseur and I don't care
I like to make people stare
I am a poseur and I don't care
I like to make people stare

Exhibition is the name
Voyeurism is the game
Stereoscopic is the show
Viewing time makes it grow

My facade is just a fake
Shock horror no escape
Sensationalism for the feed
Caricatures are what you breed

Anti-art was the start
Establishments like a laugh
Yes we're very entertaining
Overtones can be betraying

Friday, February 11, 2005

Moving on

Well, I'm going to focus on rounding out my discussion on the Value of value and Oppositional Poetics topics, reply to both Josh and Jake, and await responses from those out (t)here who cultivate community. I am anticipating a few more responses. I hope they arrive.

Also, be on the look-out for a call for submissions for a chapbook on Angry Utopias. Be thinking about what that can possibly mean to you in terms of prose and verse. I will have a formal call ready to send out very soon. I will post it on Dagzine as well with all the particulars. And everybody is welcome to submit. I have a small group of friends ready to help me edit and compose...

I apologize for allowing myself to become engaged in a whining match with the pseudonyms and anonyms on Foetry. I haven't brought that onto dagzine, but for those of you who read the message boards on Foetry, you know I have been arguing. That is why I have dropped the ball on my discussions here. No longer going to attend to those creeps who spread gossip about secret hotel room visits and who attack young writers. What nonsense.

One of the recent posts at Foetry suggests that stealing money (from a published writer) to publish a book is a useful response to what appears to be an unfair publishing market. Crass threats. Strict gossip. Unbelievable spectacle. In other words, counter-revolutionary. And arch-neo-con rhetoric if you think about it.

Situationism 101: All energy wasted on half-measures strengthens the tyrannical grip of the old regime.

Foetry is the finest example we've got going of a "half-measure."

Market economics meets Radical Politics: The only free choice is the refusal to pay.

But this is not the call to steal from your colleagues dudes. It is the refusal to compete within that market. It is the acknowledgement that we must take what is ours with us when we leave. If Foetry were doing its job (American Poetry Watchdog,) it would simply resist publishing at all. Oh, but that's what they want--the commodity, the fetish object. They could care less about smashing the ideological structures that oppress the anonymous masses--the silent majority.

In other words, you cannot reform the system from within it: liberalism doesn't work that way. The more you regulate the liberal market economy the more complex it gets, and the more complex it gets the we are limited: the less control over the concrete details that arrange the market economy.

They claim they are "grass roots." Please. If Foetry was grass roots, we'd at least know their names and at best be able to meet them over a beer.

So there. You (Foetry) can refer to what I do as "gassy rhetoric" and you can insult our community all you want. In the market, you have the choice to exit. Voice is not what the market is sensitive to. I am not going to stop because of your masturbatory version of the dozens. And I really am dismayed that some of my newest friends have decided to quit rather than weather the storm.

listening to McCluskey: "whiteliberalonwhiteliberal action"
on deck: Cows, Effete and Impudent Snobs

A year older

fait accompli is a year older than dagzine today.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Shop as usual and avoid panic buying:

Boredom is counter-revolutionary.

Whatever happened to?

I am working with students, teaching until 8, and suffering horribly the time lost to reply to Jake and welcome Josh's input and hold the Foetry folk at bay.

And I hear in that way-back corner of my head, "I've got a job to do, and I do it well." See, Catherine got Chicago stuck in there this morning...ugh. And I have been unconsciously shuffling tunes to filter out that awful "you're the inspiration" song. And here it comes again, blocking out that harmful horn-section, a heavy bass thumping and grunging guitar and cymbal crash, a raspy voice:

"I've got a job to do..." I's


only Killdozer the best Wisconsin band ever. Their song "Richard" from Twelve-Point Buck. "...some people call me Lucifer...some people call me name is Richard, and you can call me Dick!"

We miss you Killdozer.
---sometimes I feel like a motherless child that needs a bottle of beer.---

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

It's a hoot.

I felt guilty about finding this funny until I realized that their complaint actually produces its own levity,

and it makes me puke a little.

High Plain Writers: The Conservative Arts Renaissance. There's five of them, I think. But how's this for an author's photograph, Jim? (Thanks for the head's up, Laura.)

dusters1, originally uploaded by stroszek.

splaining in progress (a tour)

I've got some splaining to do
detour or retour
detourn or retourn:

Jake replies here and here to my Foetry post, which is linked to my Oppositional Poetics post--maybe we can get that in to the conversation as well. I am reflecting.

Tomorrow the ex


I really like This Public Address. I have never mentioned this blog, which is one of the first dozen or so I added last year. Thanks, Jeff.

Playlist meme

from, limetree, bemsha swing: a playlist meme.

“I’m not like everybody else” Camper van Beethoven
“Scrap Music” The Clean
“My Valuable Hunting Knife” Guided by Voices
“||120702b (ender)” Lackluster
“Section IX” Steve Reich
“Don’t Dance Her Down” The Fiery Furnaces
“Northern Line” Jackie-O Motherfucker
“This is a Groovy Generation” Billy Kennedy
“Killers” Shellac
“Collage Uber Bach: Toccata” Arvo Part

Partly inspired by, here's a way to sum up your musical collection in a nutshell:

1. Open up the music player on your computer.

2. Set it to play your entire music collection.

3. Hit the "shuffle" command.

4. Tell us the title of the next ten songs that show up (with their musicians), no matter how embarrassing. That's right, no skipping that Carpenters tune that will totally destroy your hip credibility. It's time for total musical honesty. Write it up in your blog or journal and link back to at least a couple of the other sites where you saw this.

5. If you get the same artist twice, you may skip the second (or third, or etc.) occurances. You don't have to, but since randomness could mean you end up with a list of ten song with five artists, you can if you'd like.

on the jimside

Love "What's up with your author photo?" Love it. And the green hair

Check out Corey's recent posts in response to Snider. Engaging stuff. And, Josh, I am looking forward to the map...

Dropping out

One person decides to quit and an entire group of people follow suit?

Please. Don't drink the cool-aid. Solitude is not time-dependent, nor is it a place we can work together.

...Ossie Davis...Da

Star-nosed Gourmet

Check out today's New York Times Science Section.

Star-nosed Mole news. Is Thorson aware of this?

(Re: "Underground Gourmet: Mole Sets a Speed Record", NYT 2/8)
just want a persistent link to



Monday, February 07, 2005

a few golden ears (for exploration)

Laura Carter tempts me back to Foetry, and I find Robert Creeley engaging nameless critics. Is democratic discourse--a conversation that develops out of original social difference, that drifts from that difference towards, though never reaching, consensus and so always allows for difference and a strong drift towards consensus--can such discourse exist when its strongest proponents rely on anonymity?

Naming names while remaining anonymous is snitch activity. We don't need snitches. I offer my opinion at the beginning of this post, because I want the snitch to understand the dagposition before he or she stops reading. On with the post:

I am soon-to-be-engaged in a bit of discussion about the market and its importance to scholarship with a colleague or two (in response to my earlier post on oppositional poetics); just to say, this matter is on my mind.

Creeley questions critic-anonymity on Foetry's message boards in his own words. I admire his response. His patience. It is adequate enough, I think, to accompany the seeking writing accomplishes with a bit of solid ground upon which to cultivate a healthy community.

Are we so tied to an ideological market (an imaginary representation of the actual market and its conditions) that "the market itself" becomes simply relative? We participate in many formal economies every day: departments, household, rush hour, political, academic, etc. The market economy is different than these for many reasons that I will leave out of this post but will certainly engage should I be pushed in that direction.

Amalgam of theories regarding the market economy; ours, ideally:
1. The market is not a place; it is not an entity; it is not a thing. The market is a process.
2. The market is insensitive to the shared values of fraternity we so cherish because the market is want-regarding not need-regarding.

This is basic stuff. I must say I am inclined to agree with Creeley (citing Ginsberg.) We should think about our audience. Who do we write for? At this moment, who is my audience? I cannot see you all, but I do have an image of you. I am always inclined to shun a for in favor of a with. I reflect, often to my great pain as colleagues will testify: Who am I writing with? "Who am I writing for?" always serves my own purposes and often only on the level of base desire--I can answer the for question in a way that makes me feel better without having to engage myself and others in any real work. My work is in conjunction and cooperation with many other writers, possibly readers I do not know. Yet, an image persists. Whose image persists? (We're getting somewhere here--a "who" always after my own looking for an audience might be a good start to an complicated answer.) Yet, we will always write for some reason or another, regardless of who our audience is or should be.

Is it more valuable to favor an audience who reads my writing because the work appears in a journal or is published as a result of being chosen as the winner of a contest? Should they read it only because it may be associated with other authors who were published there? The easy answer: Some people are overly-concerned with fame. I don't buy this, though. Certainly people like to be recognized. I happen to think that the real problem is located in how we are taught to find value.

Value is taught to be universally equivalent for all things, for all people, for all places, at all times. Value is taught to be found only in formally recognized exchanges where parties exchange what they value less for what they value more, at any given time. This defines the Value of value. Value is not relative to people, places, and things. It may be relative to time. But time like value is measured through market processes; even family- or victorian- values. We count value like we count time: on both hands, and then through multiplication. We like to increase it exponentially in short periods of time; we abhor settling down to learn how to maximize value over longer periods of time. We count fast, in other words, rather than deliberately through habit.

I just received Noah Eli Gordon's The Frequencies and The Area of Sound Called the Subtone (the latter a prize-winner.) Amazing stuff. I am going to write about the works in the next few posts. I read both in one sitting. I don't know how everyone will or has responded to Noah's work; I am working on a project for my dissertation in the same tone as his--sound and form. There is an affinity--formally we write alike. I was shocked, actually. I read The Frequencies and felt right at home. This cannot happen for every reader. He'd be a fool to attempt such a feat. The value of his work though is not relative to the worth assigned to it reader from reader, either more or less deficient or excessive, etc etc. The value of his work is that value we assign it together as author and readers. There is a potential sum-total that is worth more or less to a critic but remains persistent, constant, and concretely unknowable for any one reader at any given time. Noah cannot estimate it, readers cannot count it. It is what it is. Abstractly, then, his work (that sits next to me as I type) is worth more to me than to other readers (or less, had I disliked it.) How could I have expected him to recognize that quality in me? How could he have expected me to look for that in him? Impossibilities we should hope not to solve.

Then why should we feign objectivity in our approach to publication? We shall publish what we want to because that is all we know how to do and, quite frankly, we cannot help ourselves. Are some people going to "cheat." Sure. Let them. I will ask a question sure to get a horrifying response. But I do this with the fake horns on: Who cares? Who does it harm, really?

Anyway, the value of the writing is not in my liking or disliking it. The value is always to be later determined while discussing it. (I think I could choose to discuss the value of the market as a means to distribute Noah's books, for example; as a necessary means. But I find that discussion to serve little purpose for the moment.)

My exploration here has led me to this question:

Is it important to be gifted with publication?
If so, how so? If publication as a result of winning a contest (the gift in question) is significant, what makes it meaningful? Is it the gift itself, publication, that holds the only value or is the gift a return for something? And what do the many possible forms of return signify about us, about the market? We can consider exchange as well: is the publication rewarded worth as much to the author as the work received is to the publishers? Or are we tempted to value the work according to different standards than we value the publication or opportunity to publish? If so, should we allow that disparity in values and standards?

I don't see how a gift of publication through contests (fees paid as a risk taken against the chances of being rewarded with publication) can ever be considered a fair return for the total invested labor of all contestants (creating a work, submitting to the rules for entry, paying fees and postage, waiting-with-patience, etc.) There happens to be a surplus value created and often wasted or never rewarded; I don't want to get too complex or abstract. To the point: the gift is not in publication, but in the submission. (And I mean the word in all its painful complexity.) When writers submit to contests, they labor for the cause regardless of a fix.

What is the cause? Nothing more and nothing less than keeping the market, what there is of it, alive. And I should say that the value in keeping the market alive is that the market activity is often the only visage the discourse community is allowed in public. These economies are not equivalent, but they do reveal one another. As for the gift of submission: the return will only ever meet the expectations of one and that expectation must always be measured against the sum of expectations of all those who submitted and lost. Does it really matter who is chosen? Certainly nobody should stake a life of work on a contest win. Although, depending on the contest, a writer may become a valuable commodity. Once again, I insist for the sake of argument, that value is determined not by what it means to win for one but by what it means to lose with the all the others, participants or not.

If we are going to use the market as a meaningful indicator of value, we must realize that we are looking forward to something, some value, as a return for work completed that is never going to be fully realized. Of course, there is always self-publishing. Regardless, we are in a culture that devalues the work in self-promotion. The typical critique against self-promotion is that such behavior devalues community. Whether or not a contest is fair or unfair, contest winners do not hurt the community. The writing community, through its many shapes and shared discourse(s), persists not so much regardless of publication but independent of and alongside it.

Foetry's repeated claim that publishing contests are little more than mail fraud is laughable. Theirs is nothing more than an attempt to locate a complaint in the market, actually concretely plant it or lodge it, as opposed to formally debating it within the discourse community. There is no promise of just publication; there is no way to prove "fair" reward; there is no definition for the most deserving work. Unfortunately, "I know this work and admire the author more than the others" is equivalent to "I found this work to live up to its potential better than all the others."

Thinking John Rawls here for a moment. A contest cannot promise that each contestant is to "have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others" other than to allow everybody who wishes a liberty to enter a contest. A fee, like tuition, is one way to show a willingness to participate in a specific tradition. With tuition, scholarship; with entry fees, contestant-ship. The following questions, while significant in determining outcomes in notorious contests, do not hamper the liberty to submit: Where did you go to school?; Who did you write with?; Who does this remind me of? Furthermore, worthwhile writing is never anonymous. Readers recognize work in the breath if not the name. Even if it were possible to promise blind-judging, readers are going to like specific poems, stories, and essays more than others and often evaluate out of habit. What should the standard be? Is any standard for judging fair in every circumstance for all time?

I can return to Creeley's complaint now. How can a just critique of this milieu, then, be argued anonymously? I can point to every editor, as an individual, and publication, as an entity. What good does it do to publish if my concern is merely for the ability to be-published? A name-less venture if there ever was one is "I want to see my name in lights." Because once there, nothing named can be accomplished. Good thing for beauty that the sublime is hanging around, or else we'd all write beautiful poems without affect. What good does it to complain if I am not willing to offer it a body? I doon't know where I am going with this...back to point: I hope I am making it clear that I see a distinct connection of the body and the work. Not in the sense of ownership as much as concrete position.

To the beginning: we might submit that a market is a process in which ideas as trends compete for space in which to --what? Well, it is not the place where discourse occurs. It is not the place in which dwelling occurs, dwelling in poetry or in prose. It is not a language once learned that promises access to others speaking in kind. The market is not the thought about what is significant enough to be recognized as valuable enough to publish. The market is sensitive only to private transactions; it subordinates rather than coordinates; it allows a participant in the process entry and access only; it does not operate through voice. And the latter might be the most important point. So many academics attempt to establish a useful connection between a public sphere and a market. As if merely radicalizing one leads to the radicalization of the other.

The market can care less for discourse. It has in its character to care less for reasonable claims. The market process works against our best judgment, and flies in the face of reason. The market functions regardless.

Let's attempt to be honest about this process. From where we approach the market is significant. Where does a poem go when it is published? In one sense, it is merely published in exchange for something else. On the other hand, a poem goes from the author to the reader. Often, written work simply goes elsewhere. What is exchanged in the market is not what is exchanged between author and reader. The market economy is a process which limits an individual's access to books. This may be unjust. Controlling for access, the conversation between writers and readers and writers and writers must take place outside of the market. I am not denying other claims exist, worthwhile claims, reasonable claims, that take opposing positions. I wish only to argue that a dependence on the market working in a manner that best serves authors and readers is an unhealthy and unfortunate habit because such a dependence willingly ignores one of the more persistent and powerful market characteristics. That the market is insensitive to needs.

But the market should (does, actually) serve a purpose. What do we depend on the market for? Simply put: a market is a process through and in which to practice opposition. And this should be added to my response to A Waldman's essay the other day. But it should be nothing more for us. It should represent our battle to put our thoughts out there even though language cannot quite get our thoughts right. Our thoughts--those hopes and needs-- are expressed in a language carved out of the work that occurs in the market. It would be disingenuous to claim that the market is where where we exchange our work in order to become recognized and to share recognition and, in additon, that place where our work becomes significant. Again, the market is not a place. Nevertheless, we should discourage thinking about it being that without which we cannot do our work.

Our work is significant as it appears and becomes more or less known in the market. And you may choose to work within the market or outside of it. Exit is always a choice. But as for our voices. Well, the market is deaf. And so we speak always alongside it operating.

Try having that meaningful discussion
about your work
with all your friends
in every place, they
listen to your voice
from a distance
through telephone
you must utter it
all the while counting
minutes as syllables
and then your talking
market talk and selling
that discussion
on the cheap
out all the difference
try making your voice
sound the same, no really
mean the same for
every person listening
and all those who chose
not to
try making it work for
the absent always present
make it mean the same thing
say it
make it the same thing, every time
no ideas but in values

try swallowing a wave
lapped atlantic mouthful
salt and all. if any
thing of moment occurs
they'll complain about it.

the market is a process that is insensitive to our needs. We need poetry, folks. Don't you feel it? I don't want it; I need it. That is opposition number one. A persistent tone. My ability to project into our community is not maintained nor cultivated in the market but through a formal cooperation between readers and writers within actual locations. The market has no landscape for us to walk throughout or within to get to the other side--no margins, then. The market satisfies our wants and useful exchanges of goods and services. I suppose we should be happy that it satisfies such wants without our having to insist. With writing, we must insist.

Anonymity is useful in the market; it helps one understand what occurs during exchange. You do not need to know the buyer or the seller. Anonymity is useless to an author in the market and to the reader as well. (I am not making claims about the need for the ability to remain silent or anonymous.)

I learn many things from my students. In my creative writing classes are good readers and good writers who feel they cannot read not write yet do so anyway. It's absolute torture for many of them. I respect their efforts. But I fear where their anxiety issues from: the notion that a certain kind of person writes and writes well; a certain kind of person reads and reads well. What is it about them that fails to meet the criteria? How do they not look the part? Who restricts them? It isn't the publishers. Certainly they are hard on themselves, often their own worst enemies, but we kill it in them by specializing it, fetishizing it, making it more than what IT is and making it embody a look.

--And anyway, what is next at Foetry? Will they be wanting a gratuity?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Who knew?

She fits right in, doesn't she.

(Photo from the First Lady's home page--I didn't know she had one--I visited it after I found out she is to head our new "gang task force".

lauramain, originally uploaded by stroszek.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Wouldn't it be nice

reading ecritures bleus--somebody ate her wheaties. a grand exploration via parting and nevermind the graham crackers. free verse? what free verse?
with man: the rhythm, the rebel, lowering the Level: to breath(e)--that's where it's at--for the moment. object. object. object. placing it under cover; covering it with words; lathering words into phrases; clauses; lines; aging; expiring.

you call them lines. Eye-liner. Mascara.
Lip sticks. I call them cover.

I call them breaks.
And one,
two three,
four five
six, seven
eight nine,

the party;
you know, the one
and the many

golden hurricanes.

Berrigan says write three poems a day.
Even if they aren't good; says
they aren't going
to be good. Or, poems are
good or bad,
and still poems are poems.
Wouldn't (be good)
if they tried,
but we aren't trying.
We're writing.

Then there's always the Dee Vista's.
Promote plateaus or sinkholes?

There are an awful many parking lots
with nothing underneath to support
Spring and All.

I am going home to wander.

Assignments or
signs meant?
Do you remember all antennae
poking up the landscape from
right angles to nothing?

Where does my wall meet my ceiling?
on the street, water
spicket and crab apple.

--that's a hook, hook for a plant. and that's the truth in there.

And I am going to dig up my Stevens this weekend and wriggle into Corey's conversation. Nice Nice, of course.

To Function Ego Prime

When I lose looking from you,         away
from or towards or at you,
what first would occur?

Or, to me to say to be to do
         myself out of myself
         out of myself out
         of myself or what

first would occur to me
to do? To be at all questions
first, to do the answers;

second, to list results
to order, to man, to
real it, irate.

Or, to me to say to be to do
         myself out of myself
         out of myself out
         of myself or what

without names, then without wail
or without, time to wait out
slow down.         How

I forget to tie my shoes to tie my shoes,
not I forget to breathe to breathe to breathe,

         without names then
         without breath to

Or, to me to say to be to do
      myself out of myself
      out of myself out
      of myself or what

naming leads to.         Breathing. To
breathing remembers wailing to
do. To her to grasp not to him

nor to me to say to be to do
      myself out of myself
      out of myself out
      of myself or what